The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded $10 million to a consortium of Midwestern universities to establish a new research and training program to stem the spread of disease carried by vectors like ticks and mosquitoes.
The Upper Midwestern Center of Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases, which will be led by University of Wisconsin-Madison medical entomologists Lyric Bartholomay and Susan Paskewitz, is aimed at elevating the understanding of vector borne diseases and improving public health response to diseases like Zika, West Nile and Lyme disease.
Part of a larger push by CDC to buttress the nation’s public health infrastructure to thwart vector borne diseases, including emerging diseases like Zika and West Nile, the new center will involve scientists – public health entomologists, epidemiologists, virologists and vector control experts – from UW-Madison, the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan and the Minnesota Department of Health.
A key objective of the new center, says Bartholomay, a professor of pathobiological sciences in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, is to foster collaboration not only between university experts, but also with public health organizations at the local, state and federal levels. The goal, she explains, is to boost surveillance, prevention and response against the backdrop of a trend toward the emergence of new diseases and old diseases – like Zika and West Nile – in regions far from their places of origin.
The Midwest, according to Paskewitz and Bartholomay, is a “national hotspot for disease emergence and endemic transmission of vector borne disease.”
“There is a trend toward new emerging disease,” says Paskewitz, who chairs UW-Madison’s entomology department. “We’re seeing invasions of new species and pathogens. It is these new things moving around.”
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